In February 2021 the UK declined to follow the US lead in suspending arms sales to Saudi Arabia. These amounted to 40% of the volume of UK arms exports between 2010 and 2019 and in that way sustaining the Saudi-led coalition bombing Yemen. The UK has cut aid to Yemen by £77m, citing financial pressure from Covid. The chief of the UN, Antonio Guterres said that reducing aid was a “death sentence”.
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly was surely correct to urge that the “cycle of escalating violence in and from Yemen must stop.” He failed to mention that Britain, through its supply of arms to Saudi Arabia, has played a central role in sustaining that violence and therefore contributing to civilian casualties and suffering. Indeed the Johnson government has within its power to halt a great deal of the violence by simply halting the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. We believe his words were therefore hypocritical and insincere- and an ugly and cynical insult to the tragic people of Yemen.
We showed this verdict to James Cleverly’s parliamentary office and the FCDO. No response.